A Fishful of Dollars

Raising and breeding aquatic animals is both very expensive and rewarding.  To 58-year-old Oshawa resident Colette Fontaine, “it certainly is!”

“I started when I was a little girl, about seven, when my uncle gave me guppies and mollies,” she says. Mollies are a small, tropical freshwater fish.

A couple years later, Fontaine had to leave her love for fish behind because money was scarce. It wasn’t until about seven years ago when she picked the hobby back up with a 30-gallon aquarium.

Seasoned aquarists know that their hobby can be quite expensive, and with bigger tanks comes a much steeper cost of maintenance. Fish food can be $20 per container, and chemicals are around $60 per bottle. Equipment including heaters, filtration systems, lights and decorations can be hundreds of dollars depending on size and quality. And all of that is just to prepare for the fish themselves – which can range from a few cents for minnows to $400,000 for the coveted platinum arowana. Despite the costs, Fontaine found that her aquariums became profitable over time.

Soon after she got back into the hobby, her aquarium began to thrive with fresh plants rapidly growing, and mollies rapidly reproducing. Fontaine began to sell the baby mollies to beginner aquarists in Durham Region over Kijiji.

She would sell the mollies for only a dollar each, well below the local fish store price of around six dollars. She would also sell a handful of her aquatic plants for five dollars a bag.

Every dollar she made, she put in an envelope to save for an unexpected splurge.

In a couple months, Fontaine had managed to save $205 from sales. She put the money towards an African Cichlid tank she found on Kijiji.

“They had no idea what it was worth!” Fontaine explains how she managed to get the aquarium, as well accessories valued at $500 for $200.

With a little bit of cleaning and painting, Fontaine managed to turn the tank into a beautiful home for new fish.

With a new tank upgrade on the horizon, she decided to sell the tank for $500.

Through her dedication to the hobby, she managed to purchase her gorgeous 90-gallon aquarium.

“It’s a very rewarding and relaxing hobby,” Fontaine said, “I could just sit here and watch them all day.”

To the new aquarists, Fontaine says to be prepared for a very expensive, difficult, and rewarding journey.